Washington State Crab Rules Changing

The big news this week across all the outdoor and fishing blogs is that appears Washington state is going to change up its recreational crabbing regulations to make it more recreation friendly, particularly in Puget Sound, while at the same time reducing the overall catch for the year.

Dungeoness Crabs
Recreational crab fishermen will get more chances at Dungies next year.

Current regulations limit the summer sport crabbing season in most of Puget Sound to four days per week, including Saturdays but not Sundays.

“This has been coming for a long time,” said Miranda Wecker, who chairs the commission that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “The number of sport crabbers has grown dramatically in recent years, and Puget Sound is – by far – the most popular place to fish.” This is not surprising considering that we have the bulk of the population here and it is a lot easier to crab on the calm waters of Puget Sound than on the coastal waters.

What does cheese me off is that we still have to hand over 50% of the crab catch each year to the indian tribes. Commercial fishers, who currently account for approximately 67 percent of the crab caught by non-tribal fishers, could see their share drop to 55 percent under the new policy, while the tribals will still get their cut thanks to the treaties that have been in place for decades.

Personally I would like to see those treaties reviewed with an eye towards conservation, and some oversight added to the actual catch limits that are imposed on tribal fishing operations.

Shellfish Licenses Increase in Price
In the mean time, you can also expect the cost of a Washington State shellfish card to go up, with a projected price of $7.50 under the new rules.  No surprise there, but honestly if you are crabbing or digging clams it is still well worth it!

Lastly, if you haven’t turned in your Summer crab catch card, you are about out of time!   The last day to get your crab catch card without a fine is in October 10th, so get on it.  I highly suggest using the online form, it is easy and only takes a couple of minutes.

You catch your fill of crab yet? Too bad!

Dungeoness Crab If you haven’t watched the reports, Crabbing in Puget Sound is now closed for assessment and may or may not reopen for the Winter season.  I wouldn’t hold my breath. 

Don’t forget that this means that you must turn in your crab catch (or non-catch) card by October 10th!

This year’s reporting deadline has been extended by more than two weeks to give crabbers more time to remember to send them in. Those who meet the deadline will be entered in a drawing for one of 10 free 2011 combination fishing licenses.  There is no excuse either, since you can do it pretty fast and easy online at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wdfw/puget_sound_crab_catch.html 

So there is the new on Crabbing in Puget Sound.  Hope you enjoyed Summer ‘cause it is over and now it is Coho season!

Photo courtesy of Makenosound